Focused on winning

Lady Chargers clip Fellowship in home opener to stay unbeaten

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With the tendency to laugh off mistakes, the 2-A Wilson Christian Academy varsity volleyball team turned serious and focused enough the final two sets to pull away from capable 1-A opponent Fellowship Baptist Academy of Durham in a North Carolina Christian School Association match in the Wilson Christian gym Tuesday evening.

After Fellowship evened the proceedings with a second-set win, the Lady Chargers took command to claim their home opener and extend their undefeated start to 4-0 by a 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 25-17 count. WCA handed the Lady Eagles, the 2017 NCCSA 1-A runners-up, their first loss after five wins.

“I want (players) to enjoy themselves, but I don’t want us to be silly about it,” WCA head coach Ryan Vanderboegy said of the Lady Chargers’ reactions to their miscues. “I don’t want everything to be too rigid, but we haven’t found a balance yet.”

Explained sophomore Tori Linkous: “We don’t like them but everybody is going to make mistakes; we’re not perfect. We’ve got to get through them and come together as a family — because that’s what we are.”

The 5-foot-10 Linkous and 6-0 senior McKenna Griffin led the unified effort in the third and fourth sets. Linkous amassed 12 kills, two blocks, two digs and two aces among her 23 service points. Griffin also hammered 12 kills, contributed two digs and served well with an ace.

WCA trailed 10-9 in the third set when Linkous served the Lady Chargers to a 17-10 margin. The cushion widened to 22-14 before junior Madison Carnes successfully dinked and senior libero Reagan Lamm ended the set with an ace.

From a 3-3 tie in the fourth set, Griffin served the Lady Chargers to a 9-3 advantage. She recorded her ace during the spree and Carnes added a point with a tip. Senior Christy Jones, Linkous and junior Anna Hill served WCA to a 24-10 advantage. The Lady Chargers sputtered until sophomore Dani Reece’s final of seven kills ended the match.

“I would give credit to the other team, especially their middle hitters,” assessed Fellowship coach Sharon Finley of the final two sets. “Our passes were getting too tight, our passes were off and our best hitters weren’t getting many chances. We need to work on our defense. Still, we like playing stronger teams because it makes us better.”

The first set produced eight ties and neither team led by more than three points. The Lady Eagles’ biggest advantage was 18-15, but Griffin served WCA out front 21-18. From a 23-23 deadlock, the Lady Chargers claimed the first set on a Linkous dink and a Griffin kill.

Ten ties marked the second set. The Lady Eagles led as much as 14-10 before Linkous served WCA back in front, 17-15. Lady Chargers’ mistakes were becoming less funny as sophomore Tori Gordon’s serving and senior Kaitlyn King’s kill sealed the set win for FBA.

The Lady Chargers struggled with Fellowship’s tips and the serving of senior Savannah Lindsey, junior Tori Hamilton, senior Carleigh Byrd and freshman Ariel Pickens.

But, beginning with the third set, the Lady Chargers adjusted and Linkous and Griffin became more aggressive.

“They were a solid team and we were not talking very much and didn’t have much energy,” Vanderboegh reviewed. “They hurt us with their tips. We made a commitment to start talking and get our heads up. Once we covered the holes, we started digging and hitting better. And that translated to offense.”

Junior Ashley Hartsfield paced WCA with 33 assists. Jones led with six digs, while Hartsfield had four. Reece managed two digs.